The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) cites eight practices they perceive as clearly on a significant rise for achieving all around wellness. Our blog post of February 19, 2019 summarizes one of them: "A Top Wellness Trend for 2019: Scent as Crucial for Physical and Emotional Well-Being." In this article, let’s explore GWI’s trend #4, “Prescribing Nature.”
Some doctors are beginning to literally write prescriptions for their patients to take a walk in nature. It may sound silly but in this world where people are nature-deprived for whatever reasons, writing prescriptions for regular nature walks just may be effective in helping people regain the peace of mind and body they seek.
Washington, D. C. Dr. Zarr, M. D. literally relies on a community health initiative compendium of 382 local parks in which parks and green spaces are mapped and rated based on accessibility, safety, and amenities when he writes a prescription. He chooses the park, length and frequency of the walks. (Be sure to visit our blog post of September 29, 2016 entitled, “Don’t Take Trees for Granted.” In it, you will find a number of enjoyable life-giving experiences you can have with trees on your nature walk.)
In an era free of cell phones and computers, the origins of health and healing may have been more primally understood when Paracelsus,* the 16th-century German-Swiss physician said:
Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, a book that examines the lifestyles of the world’s longest-lived people, finds that people who live to be over 100—have movement engineered into their daily lives—a practice that is quite contrary to the everyday American lifestyle.
Working in a year-round garden, cleaning the house, building a project, or walking to the store instead of driving are components of a vitality-promoting movement-oriented lifestyle that we can choose to move toward to lengthen our lives and strengthen our health.
The 1984 landmark study, “View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery” by Roger Ulrich, PhD, proved what the title implies. Now, 35 years later, the American Society of Landscape Architects affirms that architects, doctors and nurses all agree that hospital gardens are a necessity for healing. Research shows that even just looking out a window at a garden burgeoning with life and color quickens recovery and healing.
Workplaces and hotels and spas are bringing nature not only inside their environments but are carefully designing their outdoor grounds with lush green architectural landscaping. Some destination hotels go even further: “Skylonda Lodge entices guests with programs built into the forests of Woodside, California. Many of their activities are held in redwood forests or, at least, with expansive views of the incredible landscape around them.”
E.O. Wilson,** biologist, theorist, naturalist and author, says:
“We love nature because we learned to love the things that helped us survive. We are hard wired to affiliate with the natural world and just as our health improves when we are in it, so our health suffers when we are divorced from it… Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”
We might term this trend of bringing more nature into our lives and workplaces biophilia, from the Greek meaning “love of life and the living world.” The more we love life and the living world, the more quality life we have.
Americans, on average, spend 90% of their time indoors, but in answer to this trend, biophilic design is now popping up in buildings and communities with the development of living green walls richly embedded with green ferns and plants that work to purify the air we breathe while helping to reduce stress and foster a connection to the natural world while indoors.
GWI’s report states: “According to a study by the University of Exeter, offices with plants ‘could increase productivity by 15 percent’ as well as ‘lower physiological stress, increase attention span and improve wellbeing.’ This focus on ‘greening’ our indoor spaces has an overall impact on how we feel about space, so we will likely be seeing more of this in shopping centers, schools, and hospitals in the future.”
Nature-deficit disorder (NDD) is an ad-hoc phrase used to describe the phenomenon that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors. NDD seems to be pointing to the emergence or at least acceleration of a wide range of health problems—physically, mentally, behaviorally, emotionally and spiritually.
But truth is always very simple. In this case, it’s take frequent regular walks in nature or find some way to surround yourself with it.
Here’s our list of 14 benefits anyone can achieve simply by taking a walk outdoors.
The quiet calm atmosphere of nature causes you to almost immediately relax and achieve calm yourself; high blood pressure may be lowered; a depressive or anxious state can be uplifted.
You breathe fresh pure air and oxygen to invigorate the body and mind. Walking in nature helps to clear mind fog and, as studies show, helps to increase short-term memory, mental energy and cognition.
The gentle consistent pounding of your feet on the ground helps detoxify your lymphatic system which, in turn, abates or slows the aging process.
You increase fluid circulation in the body so necessary for physical and mental vitality.
You build the kind of physical endurance that positively contributes to heart health.
You become able to progress to more advanced levels of walking like hiking offering you greater physical challenges and strength building in the natural experience.
The fauna and flora reach out to you and share their natural brimming life energies with you; perhaps the frogs’ and tree toads’ songs offer you just the perfect sound healing you need or the hoot of your neighborhood owl soothes your weary soul.
You begin to more fully realize your symbiotic relationship with nature; you become more connected with the natural world of which you are an intrinsic part.
You become almost immediately contemplative and meditative; answers to your questions come spontaneously through your relaxed allowance.
You develop an appreciation for life in general; this appreciation brings more life and vitality into your existence.
You encounter new joyful experiences in nature along the way — the wonder of a type of butterfly you’ve never seen, cloud shapes that morph into interesting images or the moon that sheds her cool silvery soothing light upon you.
You increase your powers of imagination and creativity; nature gives you the safe and supportive space for unbridled imagination which may lead to manifesting your heart’s desires.
Through observation of nature, you become more deeply acquainted with the wonder of life’s inner workings thereby expanding your inner wisdom.
You begin to realize that flora and fauna are sources of inspiration for our everyday lives.
It is important to live in sync with the energetic changes of nature, principally the seasonal pattern, since seasons occur as a result of the movment of planet earth around the sun. Energetic changes have an influence on all life forms on Earth and our well-being depends in large part on our adapting to these changes.
This is the reason why PHYTO5 skincare products use natural essential oils to provide an energetic balance according to the five elements of traditional Chinese medicine (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) and the corresponding five energetic seasons.
* (c.1493–1541), Swiss physician: born Theophrastus Phillipus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim. He developed a new approach to medicine and philosophy based on observation and experience.
** Wilson has been called "the father of sociobiology" and "the father of biodiversity” and he is known for his environmental advocacy.